By Team School Fix® on September 22nd, 2021
“Only 2 weeks into school and got this absolute devious lickk,” said one TikTok user in a post that has since been deleted. The video showed what appeared to be a Paper Towel Dispenser stolen from a school bathroom, accompanied by the hashtag “#devious”. The TikTok post amassed 2.3 million likes before it was removed from the platform in under a week. But the damage has already been done, and the trend is spreading like wildfires.
“I don’t think anyone saw this coming,” says a maintenance director at Rochester Public Schools in Michigan. He also added, “If doors aren’t shut and locked, they’re trying to get into janitorial closets and staff areas. We need to constantly check doors to make sure they are locking properly, something we were never this concerned with in the past.”
We hear it from custodians all over the country. Students are vandalizing and stealing at an unheard-of level, so that stolen or vandalized equipment can be shown on social media sites for bragging rights. And it is a big deal, having spread in schools nationwide. Missing or broken school equipment is making everyday school maintenance time-consuming, unpredictable, and at times, unsafe.
This dramatic increase in school vandalism couldn't have come at a worse time. School maintenance and custodial budgets are notoriously underfunded, and this vandalism trend is forcing custodians to get creative to keep students safe and out of harm’s way. They often spend money to fix school equipment that is simply not in their maintenance budget to do so.
It's hard to know what's going to come up missing next. "Every day is a new adventure for us," says a Florida custodian calling in to place an order at schoolfix.com. "We had a Toilet Stall Door go missing yesterday; how that got by us, I don't know." We had another school principal call us for a replacement for the Student Crosswalk Sign that she had just ordered. "That lasted about a day," she stated. Pencil Sharpeners, School Clocks, and Hand Sanitizer Dispensers have all now also found themselves a target for theft or vandalism.
Students are bragging about stealing everything and vandalizing everything from Restroom Toilet Paper Dispensers and Mirrors to Protective Wire Guard Cages and even Hand Sanitizer Dispensers.
We've seen a lot of requests for Tamper-proof Fasteners for Signs, Restroom Partitions, or anything that can basically be screwed down. School Fix® is in a unique position to hear what damage is being caused by this social media trend targeting schools. Most of our customers are school Maintenance Staff and Administrators who are baffled by this trend and really concerned about keeping students safe. "We hear it from our school maintenance customers all over the country, from Texas to Maine, and almost everywhere in between. I've been doing this for over 32 years, and I've never seen anything like it, School Fix® CEO says. It is a clear reflection on where social media trends can sometimes go terribly wrong, and I'm really hoping it stops soon."
Finding replacement parts for vandalized or stolen school equipment can be challenging for custodians. Many schools are relying on equipment that is 20-70 years old, sometimes even a lot older. Thin maintenance budgets mean custodians have to fix what they have; there’s usually not a lot of money to purchase new equipment.
School Maintenance Staff getting creative is to fix things up is nothing new. A strong or weak local economy usually influences maintenance budgets, spikes up or down in student enrollment, or major expenditures that take funds away from appropriate everyday maintenance. This usually means old or somewhat obsolete equipment sometimes needs to be put back into use. This social media trend of vandalizing or stealing equipment that our students and staff rely on is unprecedented and taking a toll on our schools, teachers, and staff. Especially in the given time and circumstances. Again, we don't think anyone saw this coming.
Take some time to evaluate possible areas of concern with security and any potential safety issues to prevent theft and vandalism before it occurs. Then make a list of the Safety and Security Products and Equipment that would best address these problem areas you've encountered. Create your written plan and get a quote for the equipment you need. If you need help, give us a call at 800-930-6299, and we can help you find the right School Equipment to deter thieves and vandals for the 2021-2022 school year.
We hope you found this guide helpful. To learn more about solutions to common school maintenance concerns, please visit the School Fix® Blog.
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